The Lies I Unlearned When I Chose Love

Little known fact about me: my parents and older brother call me “baby,” ensuring I will be some Filipina child’s “Tita Baby” some day. 

Anyway, this is a letter to myself– now, myself in the past, and myself going forward.


Baby,

The world will tell you that you need to guard  your heart and only give love to people  that “deserve” it.

Maybe they’re right.

And they wouldn’t be the first. “If love be rough with you,” a poetic but hot-headed man once said, “then be rough with love.”

Another man once wrote, though, that if you lead a loving life, it is natural— if not essential— that you will fall in love. You will tumble head first into vats of it. Love will be gooey, messy and unpredictable. It will get in your eyes and under your nails, and you will find it dried behind your ears days after you thought you had finally scrubbed yourself clean of it.

And that’s beautiful, but it’s terrifying. It will scald you. It will go up your nose and make you cough in that painful way that rips open your throat. It screws up your clothes, staining in a way and no amount of bleach will get it out. This love shit will seriously fuck you up.

But stop running from it, baby. Stop running from love because you’re scared that you’ll never be able to scrub it away. You’re right. You won’t. It will leave a permanent mark. It’ll burn you in ways you weren’t ready for.

But stop running.

Here’s the lie you must let go: the belief that love only looks like one thing. To choose love is to understand that love comes to us in so many forms.

Love is not just kisses and rainbows. Love is bigger than presents and the person who holds you when you cry. Love is not only the arms of someone else. It is not always soft. It is not always simple. It is not always laid out and easy to reach. Sometimes you think you’re there only to learn that love is at the top of an impossibly long, climb.

Sometimes, love is the brutal, honest truth laid out on the table, looking at all the parts of that truth and making the choice. It sees all the shaky, scary bits and says, “Yes. I’m in.

Sometimes you have that conversation with a partner.

Sometimes with a friend.

Sometimes with yourself.

Still, that’s not the only way love manifests. It’s the text chain with a friend reminding you of your own strength. It’s the head tilt and the quiet question, “Are you okay? What do you need?” It’s the kid who puts everything on the field for you and for them. It’s the moment you hear your own heartbeat and feel joy.

Here’s the other lie: they have been trying to convince you that your heart will only produce so much love. They are convinced that you will meet your quota. That someone will see your secret stash of it and steal it and not give you any in return. That will happen. It will fucking hurt like hell. It will make you feel frustrated and sad.

But it won’t mean you don’t have any more love to give.

So, even when it’s difficult, choose love. Even when you know you might get hurt, run towards love.

Well, don’t run. Walk. Stroll. Take your time. Know what it really means to give and receive it. Sit with the knowledge that you will hurt other people. Love doesn’t guarantee constant happiness, but it does create joy.

But choose love. Walk towards it even when it annoys the shit out of you. Choose love even when it is ripping you at the seams. There is a fine line between DEconstruction and REconstruction, and the two are not mutually exclusive.

You will get burnt. You will be betrayed. You will realize that what you thought was love was actually something else, or that it became something else. You will cry and feel sadness and be hurt.

But you are no fool. Don’t believe that choosing love makes you naive or a dupe. You are not unworthy. Just because love transforms or leaves or isn’t enough doesn’t mean you were weak or wrong. Your ability to give love was never a weakness. In reality, it’s the greatest strength you possess.

So, stop running FROM something, and move towards love. When you see it at the top of an impossibly long rope, climb it and ring the bell for youself. Even if you fall after, you got there in the first place, the echoed ringing a reminder of how powerful you really are.

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